Sebastien Ogier leads Volkswagen podium sweep in Rally Australia

French world champion Sebastien Ogier led a podium clean sweep as Volkswagen claimed their second consecutive World Rally Championship manufacturers` title in Australia on Sunday.

AFP| Updated: Sep 14, 2014, 17:08 PM IST
Sebastien Ogier leads Volkswagen podium sweep in Rally Australia

Coffs Harbour, Australia: French world champion Sebastien Ogier led a podium clean sweep as Volkswagen claimed their second consecutive World Rally Championship manufacturers` title in Australia on Sunday.

Ogier held off Finnish team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala to win the three-day Rally Australia gravel event by 6.8seconds.

Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen completed the podium lockout for Volkswagen in third, a further 1min 11.2sec behind.

It was Ogier`s 22nd career win and his sixth of the season, edging him closer to a second consecutive drivers` title.

Ogier leads Latvala by 50 points with three rounds remaining and he is in position to clinch the world title at his home rally next month.

The manufacturers` title has not been decided so early in the season since 1989, underlining Volkswagen`s dominance this year.

Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia won 11 of the 20 Special Stages in the Australian event.

Ogier said Sunday`s victory was not achieved with the same dominance as his win last year in Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales north coast.

"This year it wasn`t possible to have that. Jari-Matti was strong but today I knew that without mistakes I would be okay," Ogier said.

"I tried to stay concentrated, pushing when it was clean and being more cautious in the tricky parts.

"It wasn`t a big winning margin but enough to win the rally and another crucial step towards winning the title."

Latvala led by a small margin until Ogier`s push for victory on Saturday.

Although rain was forecast, the Frenchman opted for harder compound Michelin tyres than Latvala.

The gamble worked as the rain stayed away and Latvala`s tyres overheated in the warm weather.

The Frenchman turned a four-second deficit into a nine-second advantage in just one stage, from which Latvala could not recover.

Mikkelsen fought off Northern Ireland`s Kris Meeke for the final podium place.

But after Meeke was penalised more than a minute on Saturday for cutting a corner illegally, the Norwegian cruised to his fourth podium of the year.

The penalty dropped Meeke`s Citroen DS3 behind Mikko Hirvonen, but Meeke moved back into fourth to head the Finn`s Ford Fiesta RS by 9.6sec.